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Zesting 101


Many Pesach recipes call for the zest of citrus fruits. But if you're a cooking newbie, you may not be familiar with this food preparation technique. Zest is the colorful, outermost rind of fruits like lemons and limes), and oranges). Aromatic and tangy, it is a popular addition to both savory and sweet dishes.  Zest also makes an elegant garnish.

Here is my guide to zesting:

Zest from a citrus fruit can be removed with one of the following:

  • a vegetable peeler
  • a grater
  • a zester
  • a microplane

One of the best tools for creating fine zest is the Microplane zester/grater (which looks like a refashioned woodworking rasp). Buy one with a handle!

The smaller, more traditional handheld zester has five tiny holes in its metal end and creates small strips of the flavorful zest when pulled across the rind.

A box grater can be used to get either large strips or fine particles of zest, and a vegetable peeler or paring knife also gives you wider strips for garnishes.

The best tool to use will depend on the recipe you are making.

A few things to keep in mind when zesting citrus fruits:

  • Avoid stripping off the white inner membrane (pith) along with the colorful rind. The pith is bitter and fairly inedible.
  • Always remember to zest fruit before juicing it. It will be almost impossible to zest afterward.
  • To get the best zest, buy fruit that is firm and brightly colored with no soft spots.
  • Wash the fruit before zesting to remove any dirt and pesticides.
  • Use zest immediately, since it will lose its flavor over time.

Bring on the zest!